New Gear/ New Toy Review: Warm Audio WA-84 Small Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Warm Audio's small diaphragm cardioid condenser WA-84 microphone starts with a capsule made by an Australian company. The capsule is precisely made to the original specs of the capsule used in the vintage German microphone. The capsule feeds a discrete Class-A FET amplifier circuit that uses premium-grade capacitors and a large nickel core CineMag output transformer. A noteworthy feature and part of the original's sound, output transformers have all but disappeared in most newer small diaphragm condenser mics.

I immediately tried the WA-84 on an acoustic guitar recording; a very popular application I used the vintage 84 often back in the day. My guitarist plays a Taylor model 655-C 12-string guitar and I had the mic about 6-inches out over the 12th fret aimed back towards the sound hole and bridge. This sounded good, clear, present and full and bright enough however I picked up a little too much fret noise and squeaks for that particular song's numerous chord changes. I then tried moving the mic about five inches over the lower bout, behind the bridge and aimed back at it. This produced a slightly brighter sound with a full-tone and a little less of the fret squeaks.

I used about 50dB of gain from my Sunset Sound S1P microphone pre-amp and no other processing for a rhythm guitar part into Pro Tools HDX at 96kHz.

Next I tried the WA-84 on a drum kit both as a close snare drum mic and as a mono overhead. Two of the original 84 mics were awesome as drum overheads in the 1970s. For close in on a five-inch Ludwig Black Beauty, I put the WA-84 out about seven-inches away and aimed at the center of the drum. I tried with and without the -10dB pad--the pad is necessary this close to a drum and you'll need a small "tweaker" tool to access the attenuator slide switch on the side of the mic. I like the sound in this position--it was bright, transient-rich and dynamic sounding with plenty of detail heard including the snares rattling around. I used the included shock mount and foam windscreen here.

Next I tried the WA-84 as a single overhead about three-feet above the rack toms over the center of the kit. With careful re-positioning I was able to "play down" the loud cymbals and focus the mic's cardioid pattern on the snare. I could hear the entire of the kit well but you would need two WA-84s for complete and proper coverage of drum kits.

The Warm Audio WA-84 comes in either matte black or nickel finishes and in matched pairs. A single WA-84 sells for $399 while a stereo pair sells for $749 MSRP. Either kit comes in a nice, foam-line carrying case with all the accessories. The Warm Audio WA-84 is a great way to add a small diaphragm condenser workhorse microphone to your collection at a great price!


Barry Rudolph is a recording engineer/mixer who has worked on over 30 gold and platinum records. He has recorded and/or mixed Lynyrd Skynyrd, Hall & Oates, Pat Benatar, Rod Stewart, the Corrs and more. Barry has his own futuristic music mixing facility and loves teaching audio engineering at Musician’s Institute, Hollywood, CA. He is a lifetime Grammy-voting member of NARAS and a contributing editor for Mix Magazine. barryrudolph.com